A Texas high school student's decision to bring a .38-caliber handgun to school in 1992 could end up at the center of the legal fight over President Barack Obama's health care reform plan.Close to 20 years later the states are making the same argument regarding Obamacare. Here's more!
Alfonso Lopez Jr.'s arrest at Edison High School in San Antonio set in motion a legal battle that may prove crucial to 13 state attorneys general fighting the new law.
Lopez, a senior when he was arrested for handgun possession in March 1992, ended up facing federal charges of violating the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990. But the Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote, threw out his conviction five years later on the grounds that Congress exceeded its regulatory authority under the Constitution when it approved the 1990 law, which makes it a violation of federal law to possess a firearm in a school zone.
In filing a lawsuit last week challenging the new health care law's mandate that everyone must have health insurance, the 13 state attorneys general — including Greg Abbott of Texas — cited the same legal reasoning that went into the Lopez ruling.
At issue in both cases is the Constitution's commerce clause, which limits the regulatory powers of Congress to matters involving interstate commerce. In the Lopez decision, conservatives on the court led by then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist ruled that the 1990 gun law was unconstitutional because it had nothing to do with commerce between states.
Upholding the federal government's right to control guns in school zones would give Congress “a general police power of the sort retained by the states,” Rehnquist wrote for the majority.
Prior to the Lopez ruling, the Supreme Court had for 60 years mostly followed the lead of Congress, ruling that congressional claims of regulatory power were valid under the Constitution. With the Lopez ruling, court watchers predicted a wholesale scaling back of such claims, clipping the wings of Congress to legislate in any area it wanted.Well I could exceprt more, but I think you should read the whole thing. It may well be worth your times if you're following the battle over Obamacare. Besides it's not quite over yet! The bill was signed into law, but will it or will it not stand. We will see eventually.
The lawsuit “is definitely not frivolous,” said professor Randy Barnett of Georgetown University in an interview with the National Law Journal. “Anyone who says it is — and I know a lot of law professors have — they're whistling past the graveyard,” Barnett said. “Anything that has never been done before has no precedent for it. And this (health care reform law) has never been done before.”
Since the Texas case was decided, Rehnquist has died and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a swing vote who sided with the majorities in the 1995 and 2000 rulings, has retired. In their places are two solid conservative votes, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. Last year, moderate-liberal Justice David Souter resigned and was replaced by a like-minded jurist, Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
BTW, you might find this post over at The Provocateur interesting with regards to Illinois Democratic Congressman Phil Hare. He was recorded as commenting that the US Constitution doesn't matter in this health care debate. Then as it reached a firestorm he had another video to address those comments saying that they were taken out of context.